I’m about to complete my twentieth year as a school bus driver this week and I’m still having fun!
It has been a challenging year at the bus barn. We lost our friend Mario the King of Karaoke, and more recently a former coworker by the name of Mac. Other bus driver friends have been dealing with serious health issues but they show up and do the best they can when they can. It’s that kind of job. It grows on you or it doesn’t. If it doesn’t, you probably won’t last long. It’s all about the kids. They keep it alive and fresh. I’ll take fifty little bosses over one big boss looking over my shoulder any day!
Fly on the Wall
Sometimes I get to be the fly on the wall of the school bus. Often, there is such a cacophony of diesel clatter, kid chatter, screaming, shouting, squeaking, etc., that it’s too difficult to discern any details of conversation.
One morning last week I was an attentive fly on the wall, eavesdropping on a seven year old boy telling a fascinating tale.
I wrote about this particular boy a few months ago when he was six. He said that the blue truck in his driveway belonged to him, not his dad. When I asked why he wasn’t driving it to school, he said simply that he had not yet reached the age of ten.
Last week he told a story of riding his bike in the neighborhood. It went something like this:
“I was riding my bike really fast and I went up a ramp and I went higher than that house (pointing to a two-story house) and I landed in the neighbor’s pool! All the oil went in the pool and the water turned black. “
I asked why he spilled so much oil from a bicycle.
He said, “It was a minibike, like a small motorcycle. My mom told me to get some gas so I went to the station. They didn’t have minibike gas so I waited behind the cars and I filled it with car gas. And the car gas made my bike go REALLY FAST!
Me: Fast enough to jump over a house?
Me: Did you have a ramp?
Boy: Yeah, I built it and I went really fast and went over the house and into the pool!
There you have it. The next Evel Knievel. Actually, his story reminds me of the stupid stuff I did on my bike when I was a kid, like the time I rode my bike up a tree. The ascent was heavenly but the return trip didn’t work out so well.
Words of Wisdom
Anybody who has ever driven a school bus in Austin knows Ida. She’s been at it since the seventies and shows no signs of slowing down. She has seen it all and still wears a big smile to work every day. When I have an issue on my bus that I can’t figure out on my own I often turn to Ida.
This year I’ve been blessed with a wonderful high school route. I haven’t had any trouble with the kids. No smoking, no fights, no bullying, etc. I had only one little issue I wanted to fix. At one of the bus stops in the afternoon, some of the kids would cross the street behind the bus instead of in front where I can see them. When they cross behind the bus, I might not even know they’re there and neither will oncoming drivers. I had made the announcement several times and each time it would work for a day or two before they reverted to crossing behind the bus.
Finally I went to Ida for advice. She smiled like she always does and said, “I tell them to cross in front of the bus. If you’re going to get hit by a car, I want to see it happen!”
I borrowed her words of wisdom and haven’t had a problem since!
As per tradition, the kids have added another layer of signatures to my old school bus guitar (SBG II. I retired SBG I years ago.)
Happy Summer, y’all! See you in the fall if not sooner!